One would think that a garbage disposal would keep itself clean, given the nature of its function. Yet sometimes items unsuitable for the unit can get stuck or clogged inside the drain, producing foul odors and reducing the life of the disposal unit. The following are some tips to keeping your disposal unit fresh and effective.

Most garbage disposals are equipped with rotating blades attached to a metal cylinder, with grinders on the sides or bottom of the cylinder that help grind down items that can get lodged underneath the blades. Sometimes no matter how vigilant, glass, metal, rubber or unsuitable food particles such as corn husks, shrimp shells, fruit pits or bones will need to be physically removed from the disposal.

Safety is of the utmost importance when cleaning out a disposal. Make sure the fuse that powers the disposal unit is turned off. This will ensure there is no way that the unit could turn on when reaching inside. As a general rule of thumb, never put your own hands into the disposal unit. Instead, use pliers or a similar device to dislodge stuck items.

When foods find their way into the drain and can’t be reached by the disposal unit, foul odors will begin to seep from the sink as food breaks down. Often, this can also attract the unwanted attention of fruit flies and other pests that feed on broken-down food and plants.

garbage disposal cleaning tipsA clever trick to cleaning out this sort of problem is to use ice, salt and cold water. Throw about half a dozen ice cubes and some rock salt into the disposal unit, and give it a whirl for about 30 seconds. The resulting ice chips will find their way into the crevices where food is lodged. Check the disposal blades with a flashlight to make sure that the gunk and grime has been removed.

Another great way to keep odors from building up is to use white vinegar and baking soda. Pour a cup of vinegar and a half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, and let it work its magic for about 15 minutes. The acidic solution will kill a lot of bacteria that festers inside the drain. This is also a great way to avoid harsh chemicals which could spill out of the disposal unit and into the sink when turned back on.

One last trick in keeping a disposal’s aroma fragrant is to use citrus peels. Use thinly sliced peels from a lemon or an orange and throw them into the disposal. The oils and acidic nature of these fruits will offer another natural method of keeping the walls clean. Then, use cold water to flush the unit.

Remember, always use cold water when flushing the disposal, as it helps to solidify gunk and grease and stops it from building up inside the walls of the disposal.

With these tips in mind a garbage disposal will remain working in tip, top shape for years to come. If all else fails and the unit continues to experience problems, consider calling a licensed professional. Narrow Path Plumbing has the tools and the know-how to safely address any garbage disposal emergency.